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Faith Marindich

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Africa > South Africa > Useful Info
Submitted on May 05, 2019 Useful Info

How to communicate when in South Africa

South Africa is one of the nations with diverse populations ranging from Indians, Blacks, Brits, and people from Southwest Asia, interacting with all these populations can be a challenge but here are some tips to get you going;

  • Not all South Africans speak English, the majority are bilingual and understand both English and Afrikaan.
  • The English spoken by most bilinguals tends to be heavily accented and they speak fast, therefore, you have to listen keenly so as to get what is being said.
  • When greeting people or doing introductions, start with the seniors, for example, you start from the father then the mother and lastly kids starting from the eldest child. That order is considered crucial not just in South Africa but the African continent generally.
  • People here are generally reserved and just a simple handshake is enough when greeting somebody.
  • NOTE: Backslapping is very common during discussions, it is a sign of friendship, however, if you feel uncomfortable with it maintain a short distance from the person you're talking to so that they aren't close enough to slap you or simply tell them you aren't ok with it.

DONT'S

  • Don't initiate or take part in any racism discussions, even with the end of the apartheid regime, this topic tends to evoke emotions among most South Africans.